Earlier this month clashes broke out when the military tried to clear protesters from Tahrir Square on 9 March (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk). According to Amnesty International 18 women protesters were arrested, tortured and forced to take “virginity tests” by the Egyptian army.
The rights group is calling on the authorities in Cairo to investigate, saying that the women were beaten, given electric shocks and strip searched.
The army denies the allegations.
Amnesty was told by Salwa Hosseini, 20, that she was forced to take off all her clothes by a female prison guard in a room with open doors and a window. She added that while she was naked male soldiers looked in and took photographs of her.
She also said that later a man in a while coat carried out a ‘virginity check’ on her and the protester was threatened with prostitution charges.
In a statement spokesperson for Amnesty International said : “Forcing women to have ‘virginity tests’ is utterly unacceptable. Its purpose is to degrade women because they are women.”
“Women and girls must be able to express their views on the future of Egypt without being detained, tortured, or subjected to profoundly degrading and discriminatory treatment.”
Activists have criticised the Egyptian military for detaining people involved in the mass protests and abusing them.
The military denies using torture against civilians.
Last week, an Egyptian newspaper was told by the head of the military police that individuals had fabricated video footage in order to create divisions between the people and the armed forces.
But the country’s new rulers have also been criticised by human rights groups for continuing to put civilians on trial before military courts, arguing that they have a track record of unfair trials and that they severely restrict the right to appeal.
In Egypt reporting on the military is complicated, and in 1956 a law passed which prevents writing about the army.